In a letter signed by many of the employees, the workers are said to have expressed their grievances to government, highlighting their dissatisfaction with the lack of transparency in the privatisation of the department and in particular, their standing as employees, or potential employees, of the new corporation.
While making known his Party’s solidarity with the workers, Mr. Grant, issued a call for the Government to practice a much higher level of transparency, in the pending privatisation of the Electricity Services Department. Information about the privatisation of the Electricity has not been forthcoming, said Grant, explaining that the country is unclear of what is being done and what is expected with the privatisation.
“I think I can speak on behalf of the vast majority of people in the country when I say that the privatization of the electricity department is being conducted in a very secretive manner and this does not sit well with the consumers of this country,” said Grant
The People’s Action Movement has no issue with the corporatisation of the Electricity department as, if properly done, should result in greater efficiency and service. However based on the track record of this government with their handling of corporations , most significant of which is the Air and Sea Ports Authority, which has accumulated massive debts that has now resulted in the government going to parliament to seek clearance to borrow, what is essentially a bail-out sum of $29 million, I have no confidence in the government’s ability to properly conduct or oversee the operations of any corporation, least of all, one as critically important as our Electricity Services,’ Grant said. .
Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas and the Permanent Secretary in the Minister of Public Works and Utilities have provided very little information to the public about the process, argues Grant.
Based on comments by Lenrick Lake Permanent Secretary ,the assets and debts of the Department will be transferred to the new entity which will be 100% owned by the Government but will operate as a private company. It is still unclear who will make up the transitional and management of the new corporation.
Over the last 10 years the Electricity consumers have been plagued with an inconsistent electricity supply, constant black-outs, loss of appliances due to power surges and outages and now with ever increasing electricity rates, including the most recent 85% increase.
Permanent Secretary Lake is reported to have also acknowledged that there would be some layoffs but has said that new positions would also be created.
Grant however said that he is vehemently opposed to any possible layoffs.
“I am totally opposed to any layoffs as a result of the corporatisation of the Electricity Department. The employees of the department are all hard-working people with families to feed and I cannot support the laying off of any worker from essentially a government entity in these tough economic times,” said Grant.
At the sitting of parliament on Thursday the legislative body will debate the draft legislation providing for the corporatisation of the electricity services in St. Kitts. The St. Christopher (Electricity Supply) Bill, 2011 provides for the supply of electricity in the island of St. Kitts to allow for the privatization of electricity services and for related matters.
The corporatisation is expected to be completed by the end of April.